Take a Story

posted in: Writing | 0

Often a major block for student writing is generating an idea. One solution to this problem is to use an existing story and have students change one component. You can alternate between familiar and unfamiliar stories depending on the activity and the student’s age and/or capability. It is also a useful strategy for helping students understand the different stages of a story: Exposition (setting the scene), rising action (building the tension), climax, falling action (tidying up the loose ends) and the resolution.

The following suggested activities can be completed independently or in pairs. On the completion of the activity, the students should share their creative endeavours. The activities can be completed as a writing activity, as a video or audio recording or as a performance (including the use of puppets). It is also useful to begin by brainstorm a range of possible scenarios.


It’s often easier to start with changing the resolution. Read or re-read the story to the climax. The students write the ending to the story. An important component of this activity is ensuring the resolution makes logical sense given the preceding events. If the students are unfamiliar with the story, compare the students’ responses with the author’s ending.

Exposition & Rising Action:

Begin reading the story at the climax. Students develop the opening scene. In the opening scene they need to include information about the key characters, the setting and the situation leading to the climax.


Read either side of the climax. Students develop their own climax. A good climax will be logical and encapsulate all the elements in the story. Writing a climax is probably the most difficult element of story writing, so leave this activity for your students that need a challenge.


Another important element of stories is character development. We come to know a character through their appearance, their actions, their dialogue, their thoughts and how others perceive the character.

To better understand characters and character development, students can conduct character interviews taking on the role of either the character or the interviewer. Through this process they can develop an understanding of the characters’ motives and backstories that are not included in the original text.

Background Knowledge:

Authors spend a lot of time researching before they begin the writing process. Use a published story as a jumping off point to investigate a particular era, activity, animal, country, etc. Using the knowledge developed in the research activity, students then create a short story which embeds this information into the story.

For more ideas to develop creative writing check out the Writing Creatively and Introduction to Writing Creatively books.